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March 2023

Erik’s parents deploy to Iraq, leaving him to go live with his Oma and Big Darrell on the prairies of North Dakota. Angry, lonely and feeling unwanted, Erik rescues a dog, names him Quill and claims the dog as his own. When the dog’s owner turns up, Erik takes to the prairie, confident that he and Quill together can make a life for themselves on the prairie.

Middle grade readers, both boys and girls, will love this book. Erik’s independence, his love for Quill and his journey on the prairie will fuel the imaginations of young readers. What I liked about the book is that in the end, Erik discovers that there is more to the adults in his life than he first realized. His parents and grandparents aren’t just labelled as “the bad guys” and kept that way. Erik is allowed to get to know them and appreciate them for who they are. This is a similar, but easier to read, tale to My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, one of my personal classics.

Absolutely fantastic.  One of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  I don’t know how I missed Mowat’s books growing up, but I’m glad I discovered him now.  The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be is the true story of Mutt, Mowat’s own beloved dog.  Although Mutt was technically a dog, he certainly didn’t act like a dog.  Mutt’s exploits are legendary in the small Canadian towns where he lived, and Mowat’s descriptions of them are laugh-out-loud hysterical.  Mowat’s book is more than just a dog story.  He brings to life his boyhood in Canada, the adventures he shared with his father, and his love for and knowledge of nature.  I loved reading this book myself, and can’t wait to share it with my children when they’re older.

An absolute must read for anyone who’s ever raised a family and loved a dog.  Grogan’s account of life with Marley will make you laugh and cry.  It’s more than a “funny dog story.”  Marley and Me is the story of how John, Jenny, their three children and Marley became a family

When Willie has to give up his beloved German Shepherd, Cracker, he chooses to give her to the military, rather than the pound.  Cracker is soon paired up with Rick and sent to Vietnam, where she alerts soldiers to the dangers of traps and ambushes.

This was an excellent book. Although it will appeal to readers of all ages, it would be a great choice for middle school boys.  Cracker’s story, combined with the tension of the war and Rick’s struggle to prove himself as the best dog handler in Vietnam will draw in the most reluctant of readers.

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